This was a fun list to work on, because the world of Rock, Pop and other commercial genres has usually been far removed from the trumpet realm. But there have been some fantastic trumpet players over the years who have captured the attention of popular music audiences. We must not forget that jazz, at one time, was THE popular music, and, because of this, Louis Armstrong really deserves to be at the top of this list. Instead, I want to focus on Rock and pop music from the 1960s and onward. Some bands, like the Beatles (British trumpeter David Mason was the piccolo trumpet soloist on “Penny Lane”), worked with trumpeters from time to time, while other bands, like Earth, Wind and Fire, always had trumpets. Here is my list of the greatest of these trumpeters.
1. Lew Soloff. Deeply entrenched in the jazz world, Soloff nevertheless won a Grammy while playing on Blood, Sweat and Tears’ famous “Spinning Wheel” among other great tunes during his tenure from 1968 to 1973 with BS&T (Chuck Winfield also played trumpet in the group at this time). Soloff has also collaborated with Tony Bennett, Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithful, Aretha Franklin, Lou Reed, Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Barbra Streisand. ll
Speaking of Blood, Sweat & Tears, the band that has blended rock and jazz for more than four decades, here’s a list of all the trumpeters that have played in the band: Randy Brecker and Jerry Weiss (1967-68); Lew Soloff (1967-74); Chuck Winfield (1968-73); Tom Malone (1973); John Madrid (1973-74); Tony Klatka (1974-78); Joe Giorgianni (1974-75); Forrest Buchtell (1975-77); Michael Lawrence (1977); Chris Albert (1977-78); Bruce Cassidy (1979-80); Mic Gillette (1980-81); Tim Oimette (1984-85); Steve Guttman (1985-2005); Teddy Mulet (trombone from 1985-86 and trumpet from 2005-2013); Barry Daniellian (1985-86 and 2013-14); Jerry Sokolov (1987-94); Craig Johnson (1994-98); Jon Owens (1998-2000); Dave Stahl (fill in, 1995-99); Winston Byrd (fill in, 1998); Joe Mosello (2000-02); Nick Marchione (2002-04); Steve Jankowski (2005-13); Chris Tedesco (fill in, 2006-07); Brian Steel (fill in, 2008), Carl Fischer (current); Trevor Neumann (current).
Here’s a video from 1969. You can see Lew at around 1:22.
2. This entry is not really a single trumpeter—but dedicated to all of the trumpeters of Tower of Power. Greg Adams, who, along with Mic Gillette (who also plays trombone), defined the Tower of Power sound. Both of these Grammy nominees have a very long list of affiliations in the Rock world. Now, Adolfo Acosta is the lead trumpeter in the group.
Here’s a video of “What is Hip” from 1973. Adams is the trumpeter on the left, Gillette is on the right.
3. A “must-include” for this list is the 5-time Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and arranger, Jerry Hey (the Grammys were won through his arranging, but his trumpet and flugelhorn playing are captivating). To get yourself acquainted with some of his arrangements, go to Hey’s section in this L.A. Studio Musicians Tribute Site. You’ll definitely remember Jerry’s 20-second flugelhorn solo on Dan Fogelberg’s 1979 hit “Longer” (solo starts a little after 2:00).
Here’s a video with an image of a transcription of Hey’s solo on “The Hornet.”
4. Robert “Spike” Mickens was mainly known for his association with Kool & The Gang.
I love this tune called “Jungle Boogie.”
5. Trumpeter and founding member of Chicago, Lee Loughnane, has a great interview in the February, 1998 International Trumpet Guild Journal—in this article there is a transcription of Loughnane’s solo on “Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon.” Here’s a video of that 1970 hit.
6. Motown great, Maurice Davis, not only recorded over 1,500 songs, but also was a dedicated teacher in Detroit Public Schools for 32 years and at Wayne State University, AND was also an ordained minister and philanthropist.
Here is Davis soloing on the 1972 “Papa was a Rolling Stone” with The Temptations.
Here’s Oscar playing on the 1973 classic “Zanzibar”:
8. But enough of the old guard. Wayne Bergeron is a trumpet great of today–mainly in jazz circles, but also as a sideman for such artists as Beyoncé, Michael Bublé (and others that don’t even have an acute accent in their name!). Known for his high notes, Bergeron has been in high demand in trumpet conferences. Oh, and if you like the lead trumpet playing on the movie The Incredibles, that’s Wayne.
Here’s a video of Michael Bublé with Wayne blowing lead over the tune “It’s a Beautiful Day.” Wayne is playing the solo at the very end.
Here’s a little excerpt from a Dave Matthews Band live concert in 2009.
10. Although I could add Wayne Jackson of The Memphis Horns, Randy Brecker (although I think he stands more in the jazz world), and a host of other giants, I will round out my list by being loyal to the U.S. Navy Music program by plugging Mike “Iron Mike” Bogart of the Tower of Power for nine years. Here is a humorous video of “Iron” Mike playing his high notes while he does his gym routine.
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